Saturday, April 29, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Kathie Hunt

Kathie Hunt has represented the American Red Cross in many facets over the last several years and is willing to fill any role needed.

In Disaster Cycle Services, Kathie lends her knowledge and expertise to assist the disaster program in her territory to ensure communities and clients are all served and their disaster needs are taken care of. She currently serves as the McCracken County Shelter Lead, but she is also willing to assist in the sheltering needs of many other counties.

Kathie serves as a Welcome Team volunteer in Paducah, assisting in on-boarding new volunteers and guiding them along the process of finding their niche in the Red Cross. She faithfully hosts new Volunteer Orientation classes every month in the Paducah office.

Kathie also assists in instructing disaster classes, and is a community events specialist. She is always willing to train volunteers and consistently helps out around the office or in the community. She is an exemplary volunteer whose knowledge and dedication to the American Red Cross mission are invaluable to our team.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Raleigh Pate and the Gray Ladies

Tuberculosis couldn't stop the Gray Ladies from celebrating a birthday! The Gray Ladies service was a division of the American Red Cross volunteers, made up of mostly women, acting as hostesses and providing recreational services to hospital patients. While the Gray Ladies service started out in Walter Reed Army hospital at the beginning of the First World War, it soon spread to hospitals across the United States, both military and civilian.
Raleigh Pate, right, with J. Grise and Bailey Eades

Raleigh Pate was a Gray Lady who volunteered at Hazelwood Sanatorium, a tuberculosis facility in Louisville, Ky. November 17, 1958 was a special day at Hazelwood because patients J. K. Grise of Lewisburg, Ky. and Bailey Eades of Robards, Ky., who stayed in neighboring beds, shared a birthday! Gestures as small as getting a birthday cupcake can seem monumental to patients stuck in the monotony of a Tuberculosis sanatorium. To the Gray Ladies of the American Red Cross, simply making a patient feel special on their birthday was a day well spent. 

First Capping Ceremony of the Hazelwood Gray Ladies
Although the Gray Ladies provided non-medical care, they underwent a rigorous training process, provided by medical professionals and the Red Cross, which included hospital organization, ethics, psychiatry and occupational therapy. By the 1930s, with increased demand during the Depression, the Gray Lady Service spread to other hospitals around the country, both military and civilian. Their services also extended to blood centers and providing assistance with disaster response. 

Although their numbers decreased, the Gray Ladies continued serving in American hospitals until the mid-1960s. Today, the Red Cross continues providing support to hospitalized U.S. military personnel with dedicated volunteers through Service to the Armed Forces.

For more information about the Gray Ladies, click hereIf you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Judy Cothern




Everyone in Simpson County knows Judy Cothern for her servant’s heart and involvement with a number of organizations throughout South Central Kentucky.


Judy became aware of the American Red Cross when a family member experienced a fire and Red Cross volunteers responded. This got her attention. She decided she wanted to learn more and put the mission of the Red Cross to the test. After her initial training she decided she was ready to respond to see if volunteering for the Red Cross was a fit for her. Unfortunately, the first home fire she responded to was one of her neighbors. While it was heartbreaking, she found it rewarding to have the tools and resources to help during one of life’s darkest moments. Judy has been instrumental in leading Red Cross initiatives in Simpson County and South Central Kentucky ever since.

Judy serves as the Community Volunteer Lead for the Red Cross in Simpson County, conducting volunteer meetings and recruiting volunteers. She is the Disaster Action Team Captain and responds 24/7 to fires, floods and tornadoes. She serves as a liaison between the Red Cross and local Emergency Management. She has opened and operated shelters following floods and an apartment fire.

Judy has taught disaster preparedness to teens and the Pillowcase Project, a preparedness program for children, to third through fifth graders in Simpson County. The children are then encouraged to go home and teach their families. She finds empowering children to know what to do during a disaster incredibly rewarding.

Judy’s services are not only limited to Simpson County. She also serves as a mentor to the Logan County Disaster Action Team, and has assisted with fires, flooding and tornado responses throughout all of South Central Kentucky. She has deployed on several national disasters, not only to help those impacted, but to grow her knowledge and skills to better serve here at home.

In addition to her work with the American Red Cross, Judy is very involved with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. She is active in her church, and this past winter, became very involved with Franklin’s Room in the Inn, which housed homeless throughout the coldest months of the year.

Judy has aligned herself with organizations that are there during some of life’s darkest hours – disaster, cancer, homelessness. Her passion and love for others is contagious. She wants people to feel valued and have the best the world has to offer, and her selflessness is an inspiration to anyone she meets.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Volunteer Week: A Life Well(s) Lived

On a quiet street, in an unassuming house in Lexington, Kentucky there resides an extraordinary man. His name is Wilson Wells, and he has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 65 years and counting. His is the kind of service to mankind that doesn’t get a lot of fanfare (although he has a whole room wallpapered with certificates and accolades), but essentially all of his days on Earth have been dedicated to helping others.

In 1952 in Hinckley, Minnesota Wilson was the pastor of an Episcopal church. He was 28. The Red Cross visited him to ask if anyone in his congregation would like to volunteer for disaster relief. He supplied them with several names; no one bit, and so Wilson stepped up until they were able to fill the gap. Thus began his lifelong service with the ARC.

As one can imagine, Wilson has seen a lot. He has helped with fires, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, California and Kentucky. He has worked disasters in the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Guam holds some of his most memorable experiences where without access to electricity or showers, the men and women were separated, each bathing in the ocean on separate sides of the island; and, although sometimes all the people had for shelter were tarps supplied by the RC, they would insist on feeding him and his fellow volunteers. Also while there, he was introduced to Ham radio. No phones were in usage, and so these wireless radios were used for all communication purposes. He was inspired to become licensed in Ham, and is very active with it to this day. He is on-air every Wednesday night at the headquarters for the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, and on Sunday nights, mans a statewide disaster service in Frankfort where his messages are relayed all over the Southeast U.S.

Wilson “day jobs” were also altruistic in nature. After his service in WWII, he gained a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota and worked at the VA in their psychiatric department. He also attended Seminary School and was the pastor of the aforementioned Episcopal Church. He came to Kentucky to study nursing at Eastern Kentucky University and became Director of Nursing at Appalachian Regional Hospital in West Liberty, Kentucky. He has been active in ROTC, the National Guard and the Reserves. He has volunteered for the Kentucky Foster Care Review Board, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Wilson is now 93 and going strong. At present, through the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, in addition to his Ham radio work, Wilson volunteers at the front desk of the Lexington VA Hospital every Friday afternoon, and he helps with their program called No Vet Dies Alone, which provides a human touch when a veteran’s family or friends cannot be there for them at the end of their lives.

To quote Tom Brokaw, who authored a book called The Greatest Generation about men and women from Wilson’s era, “Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip away quietly.” While Wilson’s life is too big to be boiled down to one quote, this is precisely what he has been doing for decades.


If you are interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross, visit our website at www.redcross.org.

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Dr. George Pantalos

What is service? Is it being enrolled in the armed forces? Is it fighting fires or helping people flee disasters? Is it helping families get in contact with loved ones overseas?

Service can be a multitude of different acts of kindness: Just ask the American Red Cross and their longtime man of service, Dr. George Pantalos. Dr. Pantalos first became involved with the Red Cross in 1962. Initially serving as a swim and first aid instructor, Dr. Pantalos has served the Red Cross in many roles throughout the years.

Dr. Pantalos in the process of
donating 
during a competition
to see who could bring in the most donors.
One of the significant ways Dr. Pantalos contributes to the Red Cross is through blood, plasma, and platelet donations, with his first donation occurring 22 years ago during graduate school. Pantalos attended Ohio State University (OSU) for training in biomedical engineering and cardiovascular physiology. His donations continued when he took a faculty position at the University of Utah and increased in frequency when he moved to Louisville due to the Red Cross’ proximity to his office.

Dr. Pantalos understands the importance of blood in sustaining life and the large impact donations can have on those whose well-being relies on such donations. Dr. Pantalos’ wife and three children also share his dedication to blood and blood product donation. Pantalos enjoys participating in the annual blood donation competition between OSU and their Michigan rivals. Pantalos and his daughter Natalie, a current OSU student, refer to this annual participation as their “daddy daughter donor date.”

The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of the blood donations through establishing criteria to decrease the risk of transmitting infectious diseases. While everyone may not be able to donate blood or blood products for a diverse range of reasons, Dr. Pantalos emphasizes the many avenues individuals can take to get involved with the Red Cross and ensures that “one way or another, there is a place for you here.”

Knowing that hundreds of thousands people are positively helped by the Red Cross gives Dr. Pantalos a sense of pride in his beloved organization, and motivates him to continue serving through monthly blood donations and other means. He appreciates everything the Red Cross has to offer and helps to support every aspect of the Red Cross. To answer the question “what is service?” look no further than Dr. Pantalos. He is true model of what service looks like and will continue to be a part of the Red Cross family for as long as he can. Dr. Pantalos’ advice to those who are thinking about becoming a part of the Red Cross team is to work hard, learn a lot, make new friends, and enjoy the people you work with.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Wrapped in Red Gala

The 2017 Wrapped in Red Gala celebrated 100 years of Red Cross service in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and paid special honor to our military personnel. 

Preparations for Wrapped in Red began early Saturday morning as volunteers arrived at the Marriott to begin setting up. Within hours, roses and crystal centerpieces adorned the tables and auction items were arranged for display in the hall. The dining area was transformed from a handful of boxes and chairs into an elegant ballroom, bathed from all angles in red. 


Each of the guests that arrived that night was greeted with volunteers in Red Cross uniforms from decades past. Of note were several volunteers dressed as canteen workers from the 1970s, Gray Ladies, and Red Cross nurses. Past the red carpet and registration, a 1920s bouncer waved guests into the Red Lounge speakeasy, where they could mingle with volunteers in flapper dresses to the tune of a live jazz duo or sample cocktails specially made for Wrapped in Red. 
The dinner program featured a specially prepared three-course meal and guest speakers Heather French Henry, Bill Lamb, and Jerry Abramson. Then the crowd gave our guest performers, Linkin' Bridge, a standing ovation as they sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and honored our military personnel for their service. Finally, Elizabeth Monarch hosted the thrilling live auction, which included packages ranging from a LMPD SWAT training experience to exciting vacation getaways to Barcelona and Florida.

When the program ended and the lights went down, the Endless Summer Band took the stage and the guests flooded to the dance floor to celebrate 100 years of Red Cross service in style. 

The Wrapped in Red Gala is the signature event of the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter. The Gala has become one of Louisville’s premiere philanthropic events serving up a specially prepared, three-course dinner, live entertainment and a live auction featuring exciting trips and one-of-a-kind items. The Gala would not be possible without our sponsors, including Brown-Forman, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Norton Healthcare, or our board members and volunteers, who dedicate their time to make the event a truly spectacular experience.

You can see more photos from this year's Wrapped in Red on our Flickr.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kentucky Region Board Member, Madeline Abramson, Receives National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence

The American Red Cross Kentucky Region is proud to announce that regional board member and volunteer, Madeline Abramson, has been selected to receive the National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence.
Madeline has been with the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter for nearly 25 years and in that time, has served as a living example of community service, leveraging her relationships to further the mission of the Red Cross by increasing statewide involvement with community partners, corporate leaders, increasing the number of volunteers throughout Kentucky, as well as helping support fundraising efforts.

The Presidential Award for Excellence is given each year to American Red Cross employees and volunteers who demonstrate superior job performance aligning with the organization’s priorities. This award is presented to only 30 Red Cross individuals across the country. She was recognized by Red Cross national CEO Gail McGovern and her Executive Team at a national awards dinner and ceremony held at the Red Cross Square in Washington, DC on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. 
Madeline’s extraordinary work as a chairperson of the statewide Volunteer Steering Committee has pave the way for the Kentucky Region to rebuild the Red Cross volunteer workforce infrastructure. Under her leadership, the steering committee has established groundbreaking programs such as: Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement Task Force Teams in 1 strategic locations throughout the state. This has resulted in the appointment of more than 30 leadership volunteers in key positions which spread throughout all lines of business. To ensure volunteers have a smooth intake experience, Welcome Teams have been formed in 10 locations and these teams paved the way for 1,236 volunteer to join our workforce in FY16. This contrasts with the 417 new volunteers in FY15--- a 280% increase. Madeline also led the charge to forma a Professional Development Training program for Red Cross employees and volunteer in FY16, resulting in an engagement workshop for all regional leadership, and a “Leading Through Change” seminar for the regional Disaster Services Team. She also led the region to a model of success, achieving 129% of the target in volunteer satisfaction.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Mapping of a Disaster

David Hall is a 12-year veteran volunteer with the American Red Cross, and through his particular knowledge of maps and expertise in computer programming, he has worked himself into his self- described dream job - mapping disaster sites as a member of the Red Cross’s Disaster Services Geospatial Technology Unit.

David is affiliated with the Kentucky Region Bluegrass Area Chapter and serves on the Daniel Boone Community Red Cross Board. He has been a “map geek” from a young age, and at his Madison County, Kentucky high school, began taking computer programming classes. He continued to explore mapmaking and computer science at Eastern Kentucky University, and fortuitously some of his classes familiarized him with the software that the Red Cross uses for their mapping. It’s called ArcGIS.

David’s first disaster deployment with the Red Cross was to Hurricane Matthew, which occurred in Fall 2016 and left a wake of destruction from the Caribbean through the Southeast US coastal states. As an example, FEMA is usually first on the scene. They gather a lot of the initial data about where and to what extent the damage is concentrated. They do this partially by heat sensor mapping, to show the epicenters of the damaged areas (in Matthew’s case, multiple epicenters).

When the Red Cross hits the ground, thousands of volunteers working from this initial FEMA data literally go address-to-address to assess the damaged areas. The Red Crossers are evaluating in terms of help needed and/or level of destruction. (In North Carolina alone, 2,174 volunteers were out assessing after Hurricane Matthew!) This information is then fed into a computer to create an Excel spreadsheet. David and team then take the street addresses and geocode them to get the actual coordinates, longitude and latitude, for each address. From this he creates a cleaner spreadsheet with the geocodes, along with more specifics such as Red Cross contacts and phone numbers, specific needs, etc.

With addresses geocoded, the software is able to create a damage assessment map - everything feeds off this map, and from here David begins layering on information; shelter locations, supply inventory locations, specific city transportation maps and much more, can be overlaid onto the original damage assessment map to provide more specifics to assist relief workers in helping victims in a more timely and effectual manner. David confides, before ArcGIS, a lot was left up to guesswork.

David considers mapmaking as much art as science, which speaks to his love for the endeavor. The Red Cross has been utilizing the software since before Hurricane Katrina, but David feels there is plenty of room for improvement, and he is excited about helping to hone ArcGIS’s capabilities to anticipate a disaster’s damage and cut response time down even further.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Friday, February 10, 2017

Red Cross Uniforms in WWI

"The wearing of any of these uniforms is to be a mark of service to the Red Cross; the privilege of wearing them is to be carefully guarded," announced the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross in 1917.

After the declaration of World War I, the outpouring of volunteerism in the U.S. was at an all time high. Proud Americans were eager to do whatever they could to help the war effort, women especially. The women who volunteered for the Red Cross took part in everything from canteen work and fundraising to knitting garments to send to soldiers overseas.

Women wanted to wear a uniform while doing “war work”, but due to regulations and possible confusion, the volunteers could not wear the nurse's uniforms that were already being given out to women. So, in the fall of 1917, the American Red Cross announced they were granting new uniforms to women volunteers. To keep a clear distinction between the nurses and other specialized volunteers, four new uniforms were issued to women working as Corps members.

Uniforms from left to right: Supply Corps, Clerical Corps, Refreshment Corps, and Motor Corps.

The first uniform was for the women working in Supply Corps. These volunteers were in a division of the Red Cross that was in charge of preparing surgical dressings, hospital garments, and other supplies. They donned a white dress, with dark blue veil, white shoes, and a dark blue armband with a “horn of plenty” embroidered on it.

Another uniform that was introduced was for the Clerical Corps. These volunteers were responsible for the clerical work in active Red Cross chapters, like bookkeeping and video stenography. Clerical workers wore a solid gray dress with a broad white collar, a white duck hat, and white shoes. The arm band they wore was yellow with two crossed quill pens.

The next uniform was for women working in the Refreshment Corps. This division was dedicated to feeding soldiers en route to hospital or troop movement, and also making lunches for soldiers in nearby camps. Refreshment Corps uniforms consisted of dark blue and white striped dress, long white apron, white duck helmet with a dark blue veil and tan shoes. The Red Cross emblem was on the apron and helmet.

The fourth division of volunteers to receive uniforms were the women in the Motor Corps. This service included all of the motor drivers required for chapter work. The uniforms worn were made up of a long gray coat with a tan leather belt, a close fitting leather hat, riding breeches, canvas leggings, and tan shoes. Motor Corps wore a light green arm band and displayed the Red Cross emblem proudly on their hats.